JOURNEY NO 26   -   4th April 1977

Touring the Severing of Sinews and Extracting of Hand-Bone Prison

JiGong: The time to tour Hades again has now arrived. Yang Sheng; quickly step on the lotus flower platform.
Yang Sheng: Yes Sir; I am securely seated. We can start now.
JiGong: We have arrived.
Yang Sheng: There is a building the door-way of which reads “Severing of Sinews and Extracting of Hand-Bone Prison”. The Officer and General are out to receive us. Greetings to you, Officer and General. Your humble servant, Yang Sheng and JiGong have come to visit you for necessary instruction.
JiGong: I bring Yang Sheng here today in compliance with the Order to write a Book because the present day affairs are deteriorating from bad to worse. Everybody wants to enjoy material and immoral existence. They worship money regardless of the consequences and seem to ask how much is conscience worth nowadays. When I hear of this, it pains me very much. When you come to think of it, much credit must be given to Sheng Xian Tang for publishing and distributing books, leaflets, and religious tracts exhorting people to do good deeds. Yu Huang Da Tian Zun has very high praise for Sheng Xian Tang. That’s why the special job of writing the Book, ‘Journeys to the Underworld” is entrusted to Sheng Xian Tang. Our visit to Hades is to enable Yang Sheng to write the Book based on his personal first hand observation.
Officer: We have already received information about the purpose of your visit, so please follow me.
Yang Sheng: The soldiers of Hades are really very cruel. They use very sharp knives to sever the sinews of the hands of souls who are strapped to wooden crosses. These souls are in such great pain that they cannot do anything but just struggle.
Officer: The name of this place is severing of Sinews and Extracting of Hand-Bone Prison. The soldiers of Hades use very sharp and pointed knives, firstly, to sever the sinews of the hands then to strip the flesh of the hands to feed the iron dogs; secondly to extract the bones of the hands. Truly this brutal operation is very painful indeed.
Yang Sheng: I observe that after this cruel treatment, the souls become more or less unconscious. There are a number of black dogs which seem to be enjoying a feast of the flesh which has been stripped out of the hands of the souls and thrown to them. On Earth, I have often seen dogs eating the bones of animals or fishes but I have never seen them eating the flesh of human beings. Can I ask Officer from where have these black dogs come?
Officer: These dogs are called “iron dogs” and they are peculiar only in Hades. They have never been domesticated for thousands of years. That’s why they like to eat human flesh very much. Dogs of the Earth have been domesticated for thousands of years. That’s why they are used as watch dogs, pet dogs, etc, because they are more or less familiar with human beings and their ways of life but these “iron dogs” of Hades do not know nature and so they are used to punish sinful souls by eating their flesh – this is one way of recompensation.
Yang Sheng: Officer, what you have said is quite correct. If a person does not know the meaning of honesty or righteousness he is worse than a dog. I see that these souls are being punished by their flesh being fed to these “iron dogs,” for what sins are they being so punished?
JiGong: I will wave my rush-leaf fan to revive a couple of unconscious souls so that they can relate to you their story. Just see my magic…
Yang Sheng: Really, these souls are awakening one by one.
Officer: I will release three souls for them to tell their stories to Yang Sheng. You, come here and tell Yang Sheng what sin you had committed on Earth.
1st Soul: I will speak. I am now in great agony but my descendants who are still alive on Earth do not know how much I am suffering here in Hades. They seem to think that by my death, everything is finished with and forgotten. When I was alive, I was a vegetable seller, I was greedy for money and to get more money, I manipulated my weighing machine to cheat my customers. After the manipulation, one kati of vegetables according to my weighing machine, was in fact only 11 or 12 tahils. People say one must be honest when doing business; but I had no conscience at all. How was I then to know that after my death, when I was brought before the Magic Mirror, I was shown every sin I had committed when I was living? The Head of the Fourth Tribunal sentenced me to this Prison for 10 years. Everyday, I have to undergo this terrible punishment. I hope that businessmen still living will now realize that they must be honest in all their dealings and not be greedy for easy money by resorting to cheating. One must be honest when it comes to the use of any kind of weighing machine because for cheating through incorrect weight, Hades cannot overlook or excuse. The head of the Fourth Tribunal is very much against those who cheat by resorting to short-weight.
Officer: Who on Earth told you to cheat by giving short-weight or short-measure? Now that you are here in this Prison, the soldiers of Hades have to “cure” your mischievous hands which had manipulated your weighing machine. Now, 2nd Soul, tell your side of the story to Yang Sheng quickly.
2nd Soul: When I was alive, my family was poor. I was not given a decent education and at an early age, had to earn my living as a “rag and bone” man – collecting rags and old clothes, scrap iron, odd and ends, etc, at times buying from householders, using an old bicycle for the purpose. I then sold the scraps to bigger shops. Friends of the same trade advised me that to succeed and get good profits, we have to cheat when buying and weighing the old scraps, or old newspapers, etc, because householders who sell these articles just want to get rid of their unwanted rubbish and were not very particular about what weight we say, example sometimes if the scraps actually weighed 10 katis and if we said 5 katis, the householders would not know or couldn’t care less or bother to haggle. I had been doing this sort of cheating for a number of years and when I died, the Head of the Fourth Tribunal before whom I was brought, was very angry with me. He said I did not have commercial morality and sentenced me to this Prison for 15 years, being punished everyday by the soldiers of Hades who insult and cause me much suffering. I cannot express my great grief here; so will Yang Sheng of Earth please help me to get out of this Prison?
Yang Sheng: Dear Master, what this chap has spoken is quite sincere. Look at the suffering he is undergoing and the rags he is wearing. Can we do something to help him?
JiGong: We have been entrusted with the mission to write the Book, therefore please do not deviate or interfere with the punishment these souls are going through; this is best left to the Officer.
Officer: When you were on Earth, you did not take the trouble to keep your hands clean. Now that you are dead and are here, the soldiers of Hades have to sever the sinews of your two hands etc. You should be brave and face the consequences of your past actions, like a he-man should. Now 3rd Soul, you can tell your story to Yang Sheng.
3rd Soul: When I was alive, I was married to a man who was a government servant. During the day time after my husband had gone to his office and the children had gone to school, I was left with nothing useful to do at home. So, to kill time, my neighbors and I spent our time playing mahjong. At the beginning, I did not know how to play but they taught me until I became proficient. Satisfied with my acquired knowledge of playing mahjong, I later became expert in other types of gambling. Although the stakes were small and the winnings and losses were not high, the gambling habit got the better of me and I could not let the day pass without a gambling session, so much so, that I eventually neglected my home and did not look after the welfare of my growing children and family. My husband advised me to give up the gambling habit and to concentrate on the home, but, instead, I turned a deaf ear and this resulted in frequent quarrels. Four years ago, I died of heart failure and my soul was sent to the First Tribunal, the chief of which sentenced me to this Prison where I have to undergo punishment for another 6 months, making it four and a half years in all. I would therefore advise women now living, to maintain the virtues proper to women; take care of the family and not to do the wrong that I had done. Now that I am dead, the sinews of my two hands are severed. I have to blame my own self for my present suffering because I did not conduct myself properly when I was alive.
Officer: If women do not take good care of their family and home but go gambling from house to house, or frequent brothels as a result of gambling, they have themselves to blame because they destroy social morality. One redeeming aspect of your case is that although you did gamble, you did not cheat people; neither did you frequent brothels or take to gambling for a living. The Chief of the First Tribunal was kind to sentence you so lightly; that is only four and a half years punishment.
Yang Sheng: Officer, what type of prison would a lone professional gambler be sent to when he dies? This sort of person makes gambling his sole livelihood and resorts to cheating when at the gambling table.
Officer: This type of sin does not come under the jurisdiction of this Fourth Tribunal; the proper Tribunal to deal with him is the Seventh Tribunal which is under Tai Shan Wang. I would exhort human beings who have committed the sins mentioned above to quickly turn over a new leaf and live a new life; help to print and distribute this Book; then only will their sins be lightened and they will not be sent to this Prison when they die.
JiGong: We are running out of time, so we have to return.
Yang Sheng: Thank you very much, Officer, we must hurry back.
Officer: Fare you well, JiGong and Yang Sheng.
JiGong: Yang Sheng, leave this Prison quickly and step on the lotus flower platform.
Yang Sheng: I am safely seated, dear Master; we can now start to return.
JiGong: We have arrived at Sheng Xian Tang. Yang Sheng, get down. Soul, return to your body.
End of Journey No 26